Big Year for Rebelnation
Friday night, McKenzie edged Martin-Westview to win the district soccer championship.
Winning a district title is a big deal, of course, but hardly an unusual occurrence for McKenzie and Westview. These two teams have sort of established themselves as the Class of this area recently and, as a result, have developed a pretty good rivalry.
Put into a larger context, however, there may be some unprecedented achievements taking place.
This has been a monumental year for McKenzie High School. Consider that MHS won the regional championship in football and played for the state championship, McKenzie’s girls golf team won the district and region to advance to the state tournament, girls basketball won the district, region and state championships.
McKenzie boys’ basketball won the district and regional to advance to the state tournament. Just last week, McKenzie won both baseball and softball district tournaments and will try to add regional champs to their resume.
I’ve been doing this for a long time and have covered my share of great teams through the years. I’ve covered 13 stare champions over the last 45 years. I covered those great Dresden teams in the mid-to-late 1980s, those teams that featured Peanut Winn and Popeye Jones. Those guys went to state in every sport, winning the baseball crown in 1987. Oh, by the way, Dresden’s girls were pretty good during those days, reaching the state tournament in basketball and softball.
In 2005-2006, McKenzie had a good year. Its football team reached the second round of the state football playoffs. The golf team won 40 matches and finished sixth at the state tournament. Boys’ basketball won 24 games and was ranked seventh in use state before succumbing to a hot-shooting Halls team in the regional tournament at Trenton.
That year, McKenzie softball reached substate and Andrea Swan medaled for the Lady Rebels at the state track meet. And, yes, the Rebel baseball team defeated Forrest 2-0 in the state baseball championship.
That was a special year, to be sure.
I remember Greenfield boys’ and girls’ basketball making substate in the same year, back in 1985 (Greenfield’s girls got to the state semifinals that year). I can recall going to the Spring Fling in the late 1990s and wishing I were an amoeba, so I could split myself up and be in three places at the same time. I think anyone who has spent any time in this sports-media racket will tell you covering a winner is a lot more fun than covering teams/programs that struggle.
That said, I have been around some pretty good teams and programs through the years and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this kind if success before.
Some might say, “yeah, well, it’s all watered down now, so it’s easier.”
The character, effort and determination of these kids demonstrates to me that this group would succeed regardless of the way the maps are drawn up. This program hasn’t been shy about stepping up in competition. And when it has, it had done pretty well.
In this age of multiple distractions, I’m not sure the accomplishments of the 2021-22 school year have fully sunk in.
In 20 years or so, a new group of broadcasters and scribes, however they plan to modulate their craft, will look back at this year when doing research for future story. They’ll likely utter one word.
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.